Safe Selling - Protecting Yourself Against Fraudulent Transactions
Opening an online store is one of the ways in which a merchant and seller can rapidly expand their business. Because shopping on the Internet is becoming increasingly popular, an online store is sure to increase potential customer base, lower the cost of overheads and allows for a much wider range of products.
But an increase in potential custom on the Internet could also bring with it the chance of dealing with more unscrupulous consumers that may try to employ less than honest means to make the most out of their purchases. As a seller, not only are you duty bound to provide the best possible service for your customers, but also undertake some simple but crucial means to ensure that you are able to protect yourself against fraudsters and scam artists.
Fraud is one of the single largest problems facing online merchants, and costs companies and governments millions each year. But there are several steps that any online seller can take to protect themselves from this sort of illegal activity.
The first thing a seller can do is to gain a trustworthy reputation – including all necessary information in an easily accessible manner on the website will keep potential customers informed and hopefully keep shady customers away. Providing information such as your geographical address, VAT number of applicable, hidden charges such as VAT and shipping, your returns and refund policy, as well as estimated times of arrival for their purchases should mean that there is less chance of customers making claims against your company if all important information is readily available in the event of a dispute.
When trying to prevent the occurrence of fraudulent activity, the first point to consider is the methods of payment that you can offer. You should always be suspicious of customers that only wish to make partial payments, or use several different methods to pay for one item. Similarly, although shipping and billing address may often differ, you can always check up on the larger expensive items that are billed and shipped to alternative addresses.
Cheques are one payment method that you could consider, but they do bring with them some problems with regards to verifying that they are from a trustworthy source. The procedure for verifying each cheque might be a bit laborious, as it involves contacting the issuing bank. You should also be aware of customers that send cheques over and above the final amount. One scam that has to come light is where the customer will then ask the seller to wire back the difference above the original amount, but the money will come out of your pocket and the cheque could bounce.
Fake email addresses are also one way that fraudsters will take advantage of the online shopping process. One way to combat the use of fake email addresses or fake emails is to include adding a telephone and fax number in as part of the payment process. This means that you have another means to contact the customer if you have any suspicion that the email or its contents are fake.
Accepting credit cards will afford both seller and buyer with some extra protection should things go awry. From a seller’s point of view, using a credit card can often allow the merchant to use a number of ways to check the authorisation and verify that the card is not stolen or being used fraudulently. Many credit card issuers work with pay merchants such as WorldPay and PayPal to help verify the cards and keep details secure from identity theft.
These merchant accounts and escrow services work as either secure intermediaries and transaction services to ensure that money can only be transferred over secure networks from one verified account to another. There is also a verified confirmation process that will also help to ensure that the user’s bank details are bona fide. This helps to reduce the amount of fraud and crime on the Internet, and it is well worth any seller investing in a well-known version of either one of these payment methods as part of their payment process.
Both sellers and buyers should also try to use a browser that uses at least SSL (secure socket layer) 3.0, which protects information whilst in transit. This will help protect against hackers accessing identity and card details.
Online shopping for the most part is a no-fuss, largely enjoyable experience. If you employ just a few crucial steps, you are well on your way to providing a safe and reliable service for customers, employing good business practice, and keeping those pesky fraudsters at bay, as well as safeguarding the reputation of online shopping.